At least the Ravens won the game fair and square

EARLY IN A new millennium, and too long deprived of Greek food's finest, I headed for the Ikaros. There, ensconced at his favorite table, was my ample, pony-playing buddy, Fats Drobnak. Girth undiminished, he was easy to spot. Not missing a forkful of hearty moussaka, he nodded.

Fats, my friend, it's been far too long. How did last year go for you?



What did you think of the presidential contest?


"Boat race."


"S'matter? Ain'tcha never been to a horse track?"

On rare occasion, but I confess to minimal familiarity with the sport of kings' parlance.

"Anybody ever tell ya, ya talk funny sometimes?"

Yes, but I venture the same has been said to you. What exactly is a "boat race"?

"When jocks get together to see a certain hoss on which they bet a bundle wins, an' a certain better one don't. Usual the fix takes five, with the one ridin' the hoss s'posed to lose pullin' him up at the wire to make sure. Then, their nag sneaks th'oo and they cut up the pot."

Surely you don't remotely suggest anything so venal occurred in selecting the leader of the free world?


"Hell I don't. Oney difference, 'steada 110 pound jocks in colored silks pullin' it off, it was five heavyweights, all wearin' black robes. Shows the dirt less."

Fats, in our chats you've largely displayed the fabled amiability of the rotund. This verges upon the bitter. How can you be sure the vice president won?

"Bingo. I can't, jus' like you can't prove it was the guy what jus' got 'naugurated. Why? 'Cause the S'preme Court, 5-4, shut down the Flarda count."

Then you believe we'll never know?

"We prolly will one day, but too late. Nag's out and barn door shut. What we do know, leastwise, is out the track, if it's a photo finish the stewards check the film ever' which way to make sure us two-buck bettors get a fair call. Didn't happen here an' oney way to clock it is all them big Republicans, 'cludin the judges an' the brother, was scared to find out.

"I useta be a precin't cap'n in Hollantown an' seen a lot of hanky panky in my day, but we were nickel and dimers compared to that gang."


Quite a tirade, friend, but surely you wish the new president well?

"Sure, 'cause if things turn down 'steada stayin' good, it'll be the workin' stiffs what get it in the neck, which is nothin' new anyways."

But what if the count had been concluded and then-Governor Bush prevailed?

"He wins fair an' square, no beef. Buncha times my hoss misses by a whisker. I ain't happy but ya tear up your ticket and start handicappin' the next race. But this ain't six furlongs at Pimlico, right? It was the top job and now there's a stigmatism on it won't come off. Plenny sad."

Still, we go on from here, right?

"Guess so. But we gotta dump the electrical college. Mighta worked back when our fathers found us, but horse 'n buddy days is long gone 'cept for the trotters."


Let's close on an amiable note. Was not the Ravens' defense awesome this year?

"Now you finely said sumpin'. Catcha nex' time."

Milton Bates lives in Baltimore's Canton neighborhood.